Do you want to develop themes for WordPress? In this guide we collect the best starter themes for WordPress to develop own themes or free/premium themes.
There are some very good starter themes available so you do not have to reinvent the wheel. All of these boilerplates come with different levels of starting points, but they usually all include some required theme template files, CSS frameworks or at least basic CSS styling without using a framework and of course WordPress functions. Basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP you need to have to work with these starter themes.
Underscores is probably one of the most well known and popular starter themes for WordPress theme development. It is developed and maintained by automattic, the company behind wordpress.com and many other WordPress related tools and websites.
It also comes with two page layouts if you want to use a sidebar on your website (left or right sidebar).
Many plugins like WooCommerce are fully supported by Underscores.
Here you can fine the github repo which also has an extensive readme for more information.
This theme can be used in a modern development workflow with a CLI, Node JS and composer but you can also just download it and install it directly in your WordPress admin interface.
WP Bootstrap Starter is a great boilerplate for building WordPress themes if you want to use the CSS framework Bootstrap.
Bootstrap is the most popular CSS framework out there which includes many prebuilt frontend components such as headers, layouts, navigation menus, buttons and so on. All of this is already styled but can be customized very easily. The framework also comes with a responsive grid system which lets you quickly create controllable layouts with multiple columns.
WP Bootstrap Starter uses the above mentioned starter theme Underscores as its base. It includes ready made page templates with sidebars or in full width and containers. It also has a widgetized footer area and is fully ready to be used with WooCommerce. Of course also many other plugins can be used with this theme.
Naked WordPress Theme is another cool starter theme. The slogan is as follows:
The solution for designers who don’t know Wordpress
It comes with all basic pages and templates (home, about, info, blog, comments etc.) prebuilt and configured. You can use this as a base for your own theme and remove or adapat the templates.
Of course Naked is also fully responsive and is built on HTML5. It has support for custom menus, sidebars and widgets, and works nicely with taxonomies like categories and tags.
Naked can be a great starting point if you are not yet that familiar with the wordpress functions, its structure and the code.
Sage is also a very popular choice of a starter theme to develop WordPress themes. Sage uses a modern development workflow with webpack. This helps to use SASS, checking JS errors, optimizing images, browser testing and much more.
The theme comes with Bootstrap 4 included as a default but you can choose many other CSS frameworks when installing Sage. Also Sage uses the Blade templating engine.
Getting started with Sage might be a bit more complicated than using other starter themes. But once you are finished with setting up your development environment and installed all needed build tools you are getting rewarded with a modern theming experience and toolset which lets you create themes in a more modular and maintainable way.
HTML5Blank is a nice lightweight starter theme for developing WordPress themes which includes basic HTML5 markup, is responsive and mobile friendly, and has good prebuilt PHP template files.
The focus of this theme is set on cleve default setting and features of HTML5, JQuery/Javascipt and CSS. On top of that HTML5Blank comes with many preloaded functions in its functions.php file.
Also you can find theme files with pagination, wdigets, custom search forms, taxonomy pages for categories and tags, authors and more.
Bones is a starter theme for WordPress built on HTML5 for rapid development of WordPress themes. It is a very minimalistic starter theme but includes many useful prebuilt functions and settings.
Of course also this theme is responsive and goes the mobile-first way of theme development. It uses SASS for faster working with CSS stylings and provides lots of comments to make it easy for you to get started. Also Bones has preloaded functions for using custom post types and custom dashboard functions.
UnderStrap Starter Theme is a great boilerplate for WordPress Themes which is built on Underscores and includes Bootstrap 4.
Last but not least you can of course also build your own starter theme from scratch without using any of the above mentioned starter themes. If you frequently develop themes for WordPress this might be a suitable option. Every starter theme has its own pros and cons. With building your own starter theme you can have everything prebuilt exactly how you want it.